US Rating: Unrated
Film Length: 1hr 37 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Video Resolution/Codec: 1080p/AVC
Audio: English, French & Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Subtitles: Optional English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese
The Film - out of
Comedies come in all shapes and sizes. Slapstick, high-brow, low-brow, witty, sardonic, simple, obscure, self-referential, family friendly…I could go on, but you get my point. There has been every kind of comedy you could possibly think of and - as with every genre - there have been a fair share of hits & misses; successes & failures. Not every failure on the comedy front has sunk as it should have at the box office (Norbit anyone?) and not every comedy gem has found the financial recognition it deserves. Anchorman is very much an oddball, and a beautiful, clever and dedicated oddball at that. It found moderate success, financially speaking, and managed to please or perplex audiences in equal measure. It’s a love it or hate it kind of film to most that see it. I fall into the love it category. Let me tell you why.
Will Ferrell is a very clever comedian. He hasn’t starred in very clever films in his cinematic career, but he is dedicated, quite original and when he finds a character that he likes, he is all the way into the character. Talladega Nights is a great example of that dedication and originality. It’s a very funny film that resonated with audiences, found enormous financial success and helped solidify Ferrell as a comedic talent to watch. Anchorman is the progenitor of his tale of Ricky Bobby – and I think a much better film.
First, Anchorman has a great story set up. It is set in the 70’s, in a world where the chauvinistic world of Anchormen was filled with hero worship and absurd rivalries between local stations. To men like Ron Burgundy, women had only one purpose, to look good. His unfettered sexist attitude hits a brick wall when he is teamed with the beautiful and talented Veronica Corningstone, played by Christina Applegate in what I consider is easily her best onscreen performance.
Secondly, the cast of characters assembled for the film features the lightning hot talents of Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Fred Willard, Vince Vaughn and the unstoppable Steve Carell. Each character is unique, different in their comedic style with an endless opportunity to be funny. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the actors were given just the basic frame of what as scene was to be about and then spent their time improvising the funniest way to make that scene happen.
Thirdly, the film is definitely for a grown up audience, especially its ‘unrated, uncut and uncalled for’ version. For years, comedy films had been sliding into an abyss of universally appealing, family oriented affairs leaving any hopes for edgier or more adult satisfying work languishing on the sidelines. I don’t know if Anchorman itself helped cinematic comedy turn the corner to bring us where we are today (with films like 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked-Up and Wedding Crashers raking in the dough), but it serves at the very least as a solid rung on that ladder.
Lastly, Will Ferrell pulls off comedy gold with his ludicrous, lovable and laugh-out-loud funny Ron Burgundy character. He manages to create a man so overwhelmingly sexist that it reaches beyond parody and into the realm of slapstick, but not with any of the traditional trappings of the slapstick style of comedy.
Anyone who likes his Ricky Bobby character, complete with assured self-confidence, carefree abandon for logic and social norms and an utterly oblivious view of his own world should easily enjoy the Ron Burgundy chauvinist machine.
The film is rich with an outstanding comedy script and bevies of what I am sure are adlibs and improvised laugh filled scenes. The quality of talent that shows up in cameos, such as Jack Black, Tim Robbins and Luke Wilson also help elevate this film beyond your average comedy. Irreverent, hilarious and genuinely bizarre at times, Anchroman is absolutely side-splitting.
Dreamworks Pictures presents Anchorman on HD-DVD with a 1080p AVC high definition transfer. The image is pretty good, but certainly not great. Set in the 70’s, the film should have a somewhat muted tone to it to really capture the era, but the image, with an abundance of moments that are just too soft, misses the mark and an opportunity to shine.
This version has a much more satisfying presentation of the film than the standard DVD, but is it enough of an improvement to upgrade? I would rent first to be sure!
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy isn’t the kind of film that you spin when your friends come over so you can show off the Hi-Def goods, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t deliver the great soundtrack and constant onslaught of jokes in top notch form. Dreamworks provides English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus and it serves the film well, with clear center channel performance delivering the wickedly funny and original lines, one after the other. There is nothing to write home about, overall, with the audio on this HD-DVD release, but the film really doesn’t need anything spectacular as it just isn’t that kind of film.
Commentary with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay – There is no denying the commentary is unique and funny, but as far as providing any sort of valuable information on the process of making the film or the film itself, it is useless. So enjoy it for an extension of the Apatow/McKay/Ferrell brand of commentary and nothing else.
The Making of Anchorman - (9:28) - A more traditional behind the scenes look with interviews with the stars, producer Judd Apatow and writer/director Adam McKay. The real gem in here is the rehearsal and audition tape footage.
A Conversation with Ron Burgundy - (10:40) – Will Ferrell in character talking to Bill Curtis on stage in front of an audience. One of the things that Will Ferrell does better than most is staying in character at all times, thinking and being funny as the person he is playing. I caught him on Conan O’Brian on the PR tour for the film and was impressed with his ability to ‘be’ the outrageous character.
Ron Burgundy at the MTV Video Awards - (3:36) – Skit of Ron Burgundy in an awkward and funny interview with Rebecca Romijn-Stamos shown at the 2004 MTV video awards.
‘Afternoon Delight’ Music Video - (3:49) – Ron Burgundy and gang serenade the world with an odd musical ode to daytime love making.
ESPN Audition - (1:54) – A fake audition tape that has the impudent and ignorant Ron Burgundy trying out for a presenter on ESPN.
Bloopers - (7:45) – The best part of these very funny bloopers is seeing Will Ferrell breach the façade of his seemingly impenetrable Ron Burgundy veneer.
Commercial Break - (2:03) – A series of home movie snippets behind the scenes as the movie was in production. A little disjointed and doesn’t really add up to much.
Ron Burgundy Exclusive - (8:29) – This special feature comes from the Comedy Central ‘Reel Comedy’ program – a rather standard marketing tie in and less than impressive.
Special Report - (6:44) – A few of the gags from the film are presented here in an uncut form as the actors try to nail the line or gag.
Deleted Scenes - (37:53) – 29 high quality deleted scenes, many of which had me laughing as much as the scenes included in the final cut of the film.
Anchorman comes pretty close to being perfect and is certainly one of the most enjoyable comedies from the last 20 years. For me, it ranks up there at the top with off-beat gems like The Jerk, Blazing Saddles and Woody Allen’s Sleeper. To sound like an utter cliché, Anchorman is literally a laugh-a-minute delight and if Will Ferrell’s humor and the Judd Apatow adult skewed tone is your cup of tea, then Anchorman is highly recommended. The film is perfectly silly, delightfully portrayed by all the cast and dedicated to its premise – I love this film.